Xi’s growing influence goes beyond constitutional changes
China’s National People’s Congress recently abolished term and age limits for the highest offices, including that of president. While the changes may not mean much for the workings of the Chinese party-state or the country’s development, they are part of a broader effort by President Xi Jinping to expand his influence and that of the Communist Party.
Russia’s and China’s quiet contest in Central Asia
While Russia focuses on its geopolitical objectives in Central Asia, China’s primarily interest is in the region’s mineral and energy resources. As recipients of Chinese investments and development aid, the five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – are seeking to leverage the two powers’ competition for their own benefit.
Trump’s trade war is poised for a Pyrrhic victory
The flip side of the Trump administration’s drive to reduce the U.S. foreign trade deficit is that it will leave the rest of the world with fewer dollars to finance its budget deficit. President Trump could cut spending drastically or persuade the Federal Reserve to buy more bonds, but neither seems likely. More probably, he will do nothing as domestic rates rise and the dollar strengthens – widening the trade deficit again.
Indonesia moves to assert its maritime interests between two oceans
Indonesia has adopted a maritime development strategy that calls for infrastructure buildup and exploitation of sea-based resources, including offshore oil and gas drilling. Logical as this strategy could be for an archipelagic state with huge development needs, it may easily put the politically cautious Jakarta on a collision course with Beijing.
How North Korea’s neighbors are quietly stepping up
The threat posed to international security by North Korea’s nuclear posturing will not be resolved in a flashy manner – neither by an American military strike at Pyongyang’s arsenal nor by Chinese economic pressure on its rogue ally. Instead, expect three Far East nations – China, Japan and South Korea – to quietly adopt a “managed crisis” approach, combining painstaking diplomacy with small-step measures to build stability.
VIDEO: 2018 Global Outlook: North Korea and the U.S.-China-Russia triangle | GIS: Global Trends Video Reports
While the risk of a U.S.-North Korean conflict is still considered low, brinkmanship is already causing considerable collateral damage to the triangular relationship between the three great powers – the U.S., China and Russia – that was a defining feature of the Cold War.
The Friendship Bridge misnomer
China and North Korea have long ceased being true friends and allies. Beijing, just as Washington, is at a loss for how to stop the North Korean leader’s nuclear brinkmanship. The Chinese government wants the country to be seen abroad as a great new power, equal to the U.S. in dealing with the Korean Peninsula issue. But the reality is harsh. Over seven decades, the only policy tool that China has finessed to calm Pyongyang is paying money to the Kim family. In return, Pyongyang insults Beijing whenever its leader gets in a fit, and it embarrasses China abroad. No money means no talk.
GIS Dossier: China dominates the rare earths supply chain
The unique chemical and physical properties of rare earth elements make many cutting-edge technologies possible. China is richly endowed with the resource and once attempted to corner the REEs market. Beijing’s predatory policy was thwarted by the WHO and the global economic slowdown, but the West’s efforts to develop alternative supply sources have come up short.
GIS Dossier: China’s Africa strategy
Beijing’s 1996 Going Out strategy called for trade and investment in developing countries to secure energy and raw materials for its accelerating economy. Two decades later, China’s relationship with Africa is evolving into a mature, balanced system of economic and political interests.